Ann-Margret might not have graduated college, but she took Elvis to school on the dance floor.
The stage and film superstar, co-star with The King in “Viva Las Vegas” and a Strip headliner for decades, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during UNLV’s 2022 commencement ceremony at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield presented Ann-Margret with her honor in the morning ceremony.
The great Las Vegas political operative and communications executive Sig Rogich, who worked on with Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, was honored in the afternoon session.
Rogich is president of the Rogich Communications Group and a former U.S. ambassador to Iceland. He served as co-director of Reagan’s re-election campaign in 1984, and as senior assistant to President George H.W. Bush from 1989-199
A total of 3,300 graduates took the walk during the combined ceremonies.
Ann-Margret told the graduates at a packed Thomas & Mack Center of her collegiate background.
“I did one year at Northwestern,” she said. The grads laughed and she added, “But I worked really hard that one year.”
Ann-Margret went off to join the Suttletones music act at the Dunes Lounge in 1960. She appeared alongside Presley four years later in “Viva Las Vegas.” The two performed the wild “C’mon Everybody” number at UNLV’s gymnasium/dance studio set, with the “University of Nevada” sign in the background. That space is now UNLV’s Barrick Museum of Art.
After the ceremony, Ann-Margret recalled growing up in a village in Sweden, in Valsjöbyn, population 162 when she left and 98 today. “All the children in the village can’t get work, so they go to the big cities,” she said. “There were eight grades and only one teacher.”
Ann-Margret was inevitably asked about Presley, who was known to send flowers to all of her opening-night performances through his death in August 1977. She paused for several seconds at the mention of Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming “Elvis” biopic.
“I have not seen it,” Ann-Margret said. “I don’t know … I just, never talk about it.”
But she talked of the city where she just became a doctor.
“Las Vegas has been my home away from home for so long, since the 1970s and 1980s,” the Vegas icon said. “Everyone has been so kind. I love it here, and I’m loving today.”
A-Rod hangs with Kelly
Alex Rodriguez dropped into Machine Gun Kelly’s set at Zouk Nightclub on Friday night. The two hung for most of the evening, along with Kelly’s fiancé, Megan Fox. Kelly’s sixth album, “Mainstream Sellout,” has sold out. It’s his second consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard charts. The pop-punk artist is among the performers at Sunday’s Billboard Awards show at MGM Grand Garden.
Goodman’s barrel race
Oscar Goodman continues to be pursued as an expert about the skeletal remains found in barrels at Lake Mead a couple weeks ago. We have previously alluded to Goodman’s position as a possible authority in this case (he has been peppered with questions around town).
National and international media has now jumped in. Those media outlets who have wrangled the former “mob attorney” include The Associated Press, Fox News Weather (interested in Lake Mead’s dropping water levels), People, NBC, German TV, British tabloids and “various and sundry bloggers.”
Sundry Bloggers, great band name …
“It’s a blizzard in the Nevada desert,” Goodman said last week of the response to the findings. “Unbelievable.”
There is very little information about the identity of who has been found in the Lake Mead barrel. Goodman says he has heard reports that the timeline of death was established by the clothing uncovered in the barrel. Those duds and shoes were the type purchased at Kmart in the 1970s and ’80s.
“Well, it can’t be a mobster then,” Goodman said, a reference to mobster fashion tastes.
The ex-attorney took apart the facts.
“I would have to find out the caliber of the bullet. In those days, at least as far as those I represented, were always charged with murdering somebody with a .22,” Goodman said. “That was the weapon of choice, with a bullet to the back of the head. I would be very interested in finding out if that was the entry wound, and whether or not it was a .22.”
And if it’s a .22, to the back of the head?
“If that’s the case, then I’ll begin to sniff around as far as potential people who are missing, who may be in the barrel,” Goodman said, “or for people who may have put the person in the barrel.”
If it comes to actually being questioned about this ice-cold case, Goodman said, “I’ll tell them, ‘I’m taking the fifth.’ An old leopard never changes his spots.”
Taking pole position
A group of 10 Tao Group Hospitality reps attended the Formula One’s Miami Grand Prix on May 8. These were not idle race fans. The group was scouting the party and events scene, sketching out a strategy for the Las Vegas Grand Prix. The race is planned to run across the Strip in 2023.
Tao hosted the pop-up Tao X Story Big Race Weekend, at Story Nightclub in Miami. DJ Khaled was the event’s headliner. Tao has also staged pop-ups at Sundance, Coachella and the Super Bowl. The company reviewed the first F1 race in Miami, and how to best use its variety of venues in Las Vegas when the race moves here. Expect the party to stretch to Tao Nightclub and Tao Beach Dayclub at The Venetian, Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand and Omnia at Caesars Palace.
Cool Hang Alert
Country showman Chase Brown and his Disco Ladder returns to Chandelier Lounge at Notoriety Live at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Chase is a tireless singer and performer. His ladder, which is covered in tiny mirrors, is worth the price of admision — which is $20. Go to NotorietyLive.com for info.
John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at [email protected] Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.